Judge hears case of Lakeville bar open in defiance of governor's order

Alibi Drinker in Lakeville defied the governor's order by remaining open for on-site dining. (FOX 9)

Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Odette laid out the state’s case against Lakeville bar Alibi Drinkery’s owner Lisa Monet Zarza in a court hearing in Dakota County Tuesday. 

Odette said the court can issue contempt by fines or imprisonment and that it is seeking fines.

Zarza, who has kept her downtown Lakeville bar and restaurant open in defiance of state and court orders regarding COVID-19 did not speak during a virtual contempt hearing Tuesday.

"I think you should give her a break," said defense attorney Mike Padden. "An ultimatum when to close her business in light of your previous order."

"It’s not just about whether or not people can go to bars, but it’s just as much about whether a person who has a heart attack patient or a car crash can find an emergency room in a hospital," said Dakota County District Court Judge Jerome Abrams.

Abrams expressed his frustration with Zarza for continuing to allow in-person dining and drinking despite the state’s current pandemic restrictions.

Her attorney, Padden, argued she has no choice as she faces potential financial ruin. He also questioned the science and data behind Minnesota’s COVID-19 death counts that Padden suggested officials use to justify business closures and restrictions.

The Minnesota Attorney General’s office argued for significant penalties to compel Zarza to shut down. In the meantime, her customers insist they’ll keep showing up.

"Just supporting her for freedom basically," said Mark Sullivan, an Alibi Drinkery customer. "We’re behind her constitutional rights to open up her place and save her small business which she’s fighting for. I’m a small business owner myself and I am behind her 100%"